By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Drew McIntyre and Randy Orton: Not even the absurdity of ruining the Hell in a Cell gimmick by having McIntyre use bolt cutters to open the structure on the go-home show was enough to sour me on the overall feud. The build peaked a couple weeks early, but McIntyre and Orton continue to be the best thing going on the Raw brand.
Kofi Kingston vs. Sheamus: A well worked match. I was surprised that Kingston went over given that he’s working in the tag division while Sheamus is the singles wrestler. But Sheamus and the creative forces have work to do. What do we know about the Sheamus character now that we didn’t know just a few months into his initial run? Nothing. He cuts solid WWE sound byte promos that company officials probably nod along with, but his mic work is impersonal and never leads to any semblance of character growth. Sheamus is a talented guy and it’s so frustrating to see him play this one dimensional character that never evolves.
Mustafa Ali promo: A well delivered promo. It’s nice that they tied up the hacker storyline by having Ali out himself. Unfortunately, this promo came after Retribution was made to look like nobodies in the opening match. At this point, you have to hope that Ali can turn some heads with his mic work and it will lead to other opportunities for him once Retribution is put out of its misery.
WWE Raw Misses
Overall show: A mostly lousy three hours and a sorry excuse for a go-home show. Normally, WWE can shrug off a bad Raw go-home show because they still have Smackdown airing on Fox at the end of the week. But this week’s Smackdown will air on FS1 due to the World Series. Friday’s Smackdown delivered 2.124 million viewers. When Smackdown aired on FS1 last October, the show only drew 888,000 viewers. In other words, this was a really bad time for Raw to produce a bad go-home show.
Braun Strowman vs. Keith Lee: A terrible segment. Their previous cheap finish match had the big brawl and stage stunt. This rematch had a low blow finish followed by Lee getting revenge by low blowing Strowman, which led to both men holding their junk while Lee jawed at Strowman. Lee continues to work with top names, but he’s not gaining momentum because most of his matches end in cheap fashion.
AJ Styles vs. Matt Riddle: I like the idea of adding Jordan Omogbehin to the Styles act. It freshens up Styles and this is better use of Omogbehin than having him work the door at Raw Underground. But having Riddle act so intimidated by Omogbehin was a lousy way to introduce Riddle on the Raw brand. By the way, whatever happened to Raw Underground?
Retribution vs. Hurt Business: It was hard not to come away from this match feeling like the end is near for Retribution. Had it not been for Ali’s promo later in the show, I would have wondered if creative was pulling the plug after this match. In just their second match to date, T-Bar tapped clean to Bobby Lashley’s Hurt Lock. As if that wasn’t a bad enough sign for the future of the faction, they spent the post match angle getting beaten up by The Fiend. On a side note, I wish someone from creative would tell us how they want viewers to feel when they book all these heels fight one another.
Asuka vs. Lana for the Raw Women’s Championship: Asuka is cooling off. WWE has invested so much in her, Bayley, and Sasha Banks that the vast majority of the other wrestlers in the women’s division have been made to feel inferior. At this point, it seems like they are just killing time until Charlotte Flair returns and the company goes back to that not so fresh feud. Meanwhile, that’s five table spots for Lana since her husband appeared on AEW Dynamite said Vince McMahon can kiss his ass. Is that five more table spots than Lana did throughout the rest of her career?
WWE Women’s Tag Champions Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler vs. Mandy Rose and Dana Brooke vs. Lacey Evans and Peyton Royce vs. Liv Morgan and Ruby Riott in a non-title four-way tag team match: Jax and Baszler could be quality challengers for Asuka, but they are too busy plowing through the limited field of women’s tag teams, which is somehow making the singles and tag divisions feel depleted.
The Miz and John Morrison vs. Tucker and El Gran Gordo: The Gordo gag didn’t do much for me. Everyone Otis was aligned with or feuding with has been moved to Raw, which has wondering if this will be an ongoing gag.
Elias concert: WWE actually produced a full length serious album for the heel comedy wrestler who thinks he’s a musician. Why? I’m surprised WWE didn’t get the message when they had to cancel his WrestleMania weekend concert due to lack of interest.
Firefly Funhouse: An uninspired edition of the Funhouse. The payoff was Alexa Bliss showing up at the end, which did leave me looking forward to seeing what her involvement will be in future installments.